Every vagina has its own natural scent, which ranges from sour to musky or even a bit fishy. While you’re menstruating it could smell iron-like. All this has nothing to do with bad hygiene, but is caused by bacteria and yeast that are naturally present in the vagina. If the balance in your vaginal flora is off, certain bacteria overgrow, leading to vaginal odour. Also during the menstruation the scent is a bit stronger. Menstrual blood starts to smell when it comes in contact with oxygen.
What to do against vaginal odour?
- Trim your pubic hair, as blood and sweat can get stuck in it.
- Use internal sanitary products such as menstrual cups, tampons or sponge tampons and change them regularly. That way you’ll prevent smells by not letting your menstrual blood come in contact with oxygen.
- Wash your pubic hair and vulva with lukewarm water, preferably every time you go to the loo. The inside of your vagina keeps itself clean.
- Don’t use soap. This affects your vagina’s natural level of acidity (pH) and causes unpleasant smells.
- Wear clean underwear. Replace your pants when you’ve leaked onto them.
- Avoid wearing nylon, synthetic or tight clothing. Also wearing panty liners can increase the temperature and trap moisture around the vaginal region.
If your vagina really smells, you might have an infection. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition in which the balance of the bacteria in the vagina becomes disrupted. There are not enough ‘good bacteria’ and too many ‘bad ones’. The result: an unpleasant smell and discharge. Another common infection is Candida, or thrush, a yeast infection which causes itching, redness and burning of the vagina, sometimes with a creamy white cottage cheese-like discharge.
It is unclear what exactly causes these infections. However, you’re more at risk if you have a weakened immune system or take medication such as antibiotics. Even menstruating increases your risk of developing thrush. Vaginal infections are no sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Normally they are fairly harmless and go away on their own. However, when in doubt do visit your doctor and seek treatment.